by Chelsea Coupal
University of Regina students can feel guaranteed of a quality job after graduation.
Graduates who haven’t found meaningful employment six months after convocation are promised an additional year of free full-time education if they sign up for a new program called the UR Guarantee. The free tuition will be paid by the university in the form of a bursary.
The program is the first of its kind in Canada.
“Meaningful employment” means work a student finds worthwhile and satisfying, said Barb Pollock, vice-president of external relations. The university won’t deny someone the extra year’s tuition because a student has a part-time bartending job.
All undergraduate students with 30 or fewer credit hours may enter the program. However, to remain in the program, students must maintain an overall academic average of 70 per cent and attend three learning skills workshops at the Student Development Centre.
They also have to schedule one-on-one meetings with career counsellors and attend sessions on resume-writing and interview preparation at the university’s Career Centre.
And finally, they must take part in a number of activities from a list of electives. Examples of electives are attending a career fair, joining a campus club, attending a university-sponsored lecture outside of class, and volunteering in the community.
Some of these requirements are similar to the requirements of the university’s existing co-op program. Co-op student Jessica Brown, 21, said although the activities require extra commitment and hard work, out of everything she’s done at the U of R so far, joining the co-op program “has been the most useful.”
With a similar structure, the UR Guarantee’s extracurricular requirements are also meant to make students’ attractive to employers. “There’s no reason why anyone who participates in this program shouldn’t be able to articulate what it is they’re capable of when they leave here,” said Kevin Bolen, the university’s manager of career services.
There’s also a potential enrolment spin-off for the university. It’s likely most students who return for a year paid for by the university will pay for another year out of their own pockets so they can complete a second undergraduate degree, Bolen said.
Programs similar to the UR Guarantee have been implemented successfully in American post-secondary institutions, Pollock said. About a year ago, university administrators started developing a U of R version as part of an intensified student recruitment and marketing strategy.
“Hopefully it will be good for us for retention purposes,” Pollock said. “We want students to stay with us and take their complete degree.
“It’s good for our reputation as well. I think it suggests that we’re progressive, that we’re committed to our students.”
The program should be fully developed within a year. Students can begin participating in the UR Guarantee program next fall.